As a cunning plan it didn’t quite succeed. After last weekend with wall-to-wall 5MHz activity, I thought I would break with my mid-week activation habit and give some of the weekend-only chasers a likely new one. Accordingly I alerted for Botley Hill G/SE-005 with an ETA of 1345, and the intention of trying 80/60/40/30 to cover as many options as possible. I parked at my new preferred spot just north of the road junction at TQ386546. This is a short track with a turning place and parking spot just before the “Private Road” sign. From there it is a gentle stroll north along the bridleway for a few hundred metres until the track comes to a summit at TQ384552. There is a gateway to allow setting up away from the track itself, along with fences to assist with the erection of HF antennae. It is a quiet and rural spot, certainly by comparison with other locations on this summit, with just a handful of walkers and cyclists passing in the hour or so I was there.
As usual I started on 40m CW. As I switched the rig on I could hear Klaus DF2GN/P from DM/BW-160, and a quick s2s followed. I then moved slightly HF to call CQ and found another nine chasers before the queue disappeared. At this point Ambrosi HB9AGH informed me that SOTAwatch was down, so at least I knew why some of the usual suspects had not appeared in the log. I then moved to 3561 and called CQ SOTA. After a few calls somebody appeared, very weak, and sent “SOTA?” several times. Despite my best efforts they failed to hear me sufficiently well to make a QSO, or send their callsign. With no success on 80m I moved to 10116 and tried there. Once again there was no response to my calls, and the only stations I could hear were Russian.
Plugging the microphone in, I switched to 60m. I immediately heard Andy MM0FMF/P on channel FE, and completed another s2s, this time with GM/SS-123. Moving to channel FM, I called CQ and found another five chasers. I know there were some others around but, with SOTAwatch down, there seemed no way to attract them to where I was. How much we have come to rely on SOTAwatch!! Finally I gave a few calls on 2m FM and SSB, without any great expectation of a reply, and I surely was not disappointed!!
At some stage I will return to Botley Hill again, on a weekend, and make another attempt to catch those elusive weekenders…
73 de Les, G3VQO
In reply to G3VQO:
Even with Sotawatch down, I knew that you were on because I could hear someone working you on 5Mhz. However, there was absolutely no trace of your signal here in North East Lancs unfortunately (and I need most SE hills HI). In fact 5MHz seemed below par all day at this QTH.
73, Mike G4BLH
In reply to G4BLH:
I could hear you 59 Mike on SS-123 but my 5W just couldn’t do the trip. Overall, propagation was much worse for 200ish mile contacts around 1400z compared to 1130z. The stations who are big signals on 5MHz from their QTH’s (GW0VMZ, GW4BVE) seemed to have enough slack capacity to make up for the poor propagation. Shame we couldn’t complete this QSO because we normally have no problems. I wonder if you have some other reception issue as the TX signal was respectable.
Les was a good 41 from SE-005. But I’d have been hard pushed to work him on 40m due to the wall of noise that 40m normally is. That’s what is fantastic about 60m operation, it’s so very quiet out in the wilds. So even though there was QSB and local wind noise QRM, I could still hear Les when I turned up the volume as there wasn’t any other noise on the band.
Never mind, there’s always next week to get you in the log Mike. I don’t know where next week will be yet and having done 4 activations this weekend, my knees are requesting a break!
In reply to G3VQO:
Sorry Les I picked the wrong time to go up the shops despite being only 20 mins.When I got back I got Andy but had just missed you after Brian ADD chipped
in to say you were on FM.
In reply to MM0FMF:
I wonder if
you have some other reception issue as the TX signal was respectable.
I think Andy has hit the nail on the head here Mike. You really need to sort out those local noise issues. You get almost the same reports as me from summit stations but have great difficulty on the receive side.
73 John GW4BVE
In reply to GW4BVE:
I’ve never given much thought to local noise problems people might have before, but thinking about Mike has made me realise that I tend to stick to FE or FL. If people have noise issues on those channels I’m happy to QSY if someone gives me a prod. By the time I’ve staggered to the summit, my mind tends to forget some the issues which are important for others. I’ll still come up on FE as that’s the place most people monitor.